There's been a lot of back-and-forth about whether playing video games makes you a generally more violent person. Recent studies on the matter are much more thorough than they were in, say, the '90s, and many of them agree playing video games won't alter your behavior as long as you're not playing them for 20 hours at a time.
The most recent major study comes from the University of York. The research team set out to conclude if video games "prime" players to perform in certain ways, i.e. if playing a realistically violent video game will cause players to become violent or anti-social in the real world. The experiment eventually concluded there's "no evidence" to support the link between violent behavior and violent video games.
The University of York built off previous experiments on the subject (most of which yielded mixed results) by performing a series of experiments with 3000 participants—a larger test group than previous studies utilized. The experiments involved categorizing items after playing avoidance-based games, and completing word association puzzles after playing combat games that utilize "realistic" ragdoll physics, and combat games that don't.
"We found that the priming of violent concepts, as measured by how many violent concepts appeared in the word fragment completion task, was not detectable," says Dr David Zendle, one of the researchers on the study. "There was no difference in priming between the game that employed 'ragdoll physics' and the game that didn't, as well as no significant difference between the games that used 'real' and 'unreal' solider tactics."
"The findings suggest that there is no link between these kinds of realism in games and the kind of effects that video games are commonly thought to have on their players."
Dr Zendle added more research is necessary on other aspects of realism. "What happens when we consider the realism of by-standing characters in the game, for example, and the inclusion of extreme content, such as torture?
"We also only tested these theories on adults, so more work is needed to understand whether a different effect is evident in children players."